Friday, July 5, 2013

Plant Training: What My Garden Teaches Me

As published in the July 2013 Central PA Hibu magazines


A modern garden contains, for those who know how to look and to wait, more instruction than a library. - Henri Frédéric Amiel, Swiss philosopher and poet 


After a torturous nearly 2 year hiatus due to several moves, I am pleased to announce that the garden at the new place is up and running!  My suburban yard is being converted from what is, in my opinion,completely useless, manicured, cookie-cutter fescue to beautiful raised veggie beds and dwarf fruit trees that will soon yield a delicious bounty for me to incorporate into my meal planning for the hungry brood.  The positive effects of nutrition that these things provide to me are obvious (and discussed thoroughly by those more educated in such matters than this humble writer), but there are also the other benefits to consider- those teachings so beneficial to mind and spirit that when properly practiced will render menotably less compelled to nag, thus more pleasant for my stepsons to live with. See, everyone benefits from the garden, even the teenagers.  And where you have teenage boys, you have a need for patience.  In February, I started sowing my seeds on the plant stand that my husband built.  Nagging and stomping my feet about additions to my busy schedule will not make those seeds more quickly ascend from their dark and dirty depths and into the factory generated sunshine in my garage.  They are going to do their own thing on their own time.  They've been doing it this way since before people were even here.  Their system works, I am at its mercy, and I not only benefit from the end result, but depend on it to keep me alive. Buddhism teaches of the impermanence of all things and for me, the garden is a good place to see this in practice.  We take this never ending cycle for granted.  In the fall, despite anything and everything I do to nurse that lettuce that I raised from the tiny seed, it will die.  It is the natural cycle of it- these plants will live, die, and return to the dirt in the form of nutrition for the next generation the following April.   For food to grow and thrive as all living things do naturally, it will indulge in my compost consisting of scraps from fruity counterparts from distant lands sacrificed for the cause. My kitchen bucket is filled thoughtfully, because I know that what I put in there this year will be feeding the stuff that I eat next year. The simple act of putting my apple core into the bucket instead of the landfill makes a huge difference in the lives of the plants and humans that I value. Despite the fact that I am one the most evolutionarily advanced beings on this planet, I must submit to this continuum if I am to survive.  My small actions matter in the eternal cycle of life.  Such deep philosophical concepts can be used in all aspects of daily life, including peaceful co-existence with the aforementioned teenage stepsons.  The concepts make sense; the proverbial seed has been planted.  But to take this knowledge and put it to positive use is an altogether different matter.   If you're not willing to get in there and get dirty, nothing is going to grow but unsightly and inedible weeds that, left unhampered, will take over everything in the yard, pushing out the beautiful things that have taken years to seed down.  Once you clear out the brush, you might be surprised by what is under there, fighting its way into the sun.  Making positive change in life is hard physical, mental and spiritual work.  With a few more seasons of practice, I hope to get pretty good at it.  No rush.  I'll blossom when the timing is right.  

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